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Microsoft Commits to New Versions of Office for Mac

    Online News published in DMReview.com
January 19, 2006

Microsoft Corp.'s Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU) announced at Macworld Conference & Expo 2006 a formal five-year agreement that reinforces Microsoft's plans to develop Microsoft Office for Mac software for both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. The Mac BU outlined several upcoming improvements to Entourage 2004 for Mac and said it plans to build converters to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Formats. The commitment agreement and product announcements emphasize the cooperation between the two companies and serve as significant indicators of Microsoft's ongoing commitment to the Mac platform.

For more than 20 years, the Mac BU has collaborated with customers, other Microsoft teams and Apple Computer Inc. to deliver leading-edge productivity software. The agreement paves the way for the two companies to combine talents to meet the needs of Mac customers now and in the future.

Microsoft is putting the final touches on a number of Entourage 2004 enhancements scheduled for delivery in March 2006. Since the release of Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), the Mac BU has worked with Apple to enable Sync Services integration with Entourage information and data. Customers will soon be able to sync their Entourage calendar, address book, notes and tasks with handheld devices that also work with Sync Services. Support for Spotlight, another Tiger feature, will allow customers to more effectively search Entourage e-mail messages, as they are already able to do with their Office 2004 for Mac Word, PowerPoint and Excel files. The Mac BU has enhanced Smart Card technology for customers who need to send digitally signed and encrypted e-mail messages.

The Mac BU will release new features that continue to make Messenger for Mac an ideal messaging application for Mac enterprise customers. While the current version of Messenger for Mac provides more secure messaging and file transfers within the firewall, Messenger for Mac 5.1 will allow users to send files more securely to external contacts. The updated version also will be better able to determine a user's location and where to send the message if the user is logged into Microsoft Office Live Communications Server on more than one machine. In addition, IT managers will have improved control over how they save chats at an organizational level. Messenger 5.1 is expected to be released in March.Seamless cross-platform compatibility is of prime importance to Mac users and remains a key focus of the Mac BU. To ensure that Office for Mac customers receive the highest level of compatibility, the Mac BU will issue converters that let Office for Mac users read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. These downloadable converters will be released for current versions of Office for Mac following the availability of the next version of Office for Windows. The Mac BU partners daily with many groups at Microsoft to help ensure that its software operates smoothly with software on the Windows platform. Through this ongoing collaboration, the team is well positioned to continue identifying new and creative ways to help Mac users work smarter.

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